Electric power explained

16 June 2008

As used in:
A growing number of cars, from the G-Wiz and Nice Mega City to the more exotic Tesla.

What is it? The car is driven by a battery-powered electric motor.

Cost: A complete recharge takes about six hours, at the electricity provider's normal rate.

Where can I buy it? Anywhere with an electric plug socket.

Pros: No pollution from the car; low tax liabilities.

Cons: The range and maximum speed of most electric cars are limited, while their batteries are heavy and large. The crash safety of some models has been questioned, too.

Expert view: Almost without exception, most current electric vehicles are viable only for short urban journeys. However, the environmental benefits are compromised if they are charged using electricity generated from fossil fuel power stations.

Outlook: Useful for city dwellers; only major technical advances will make them suitable everyday transport for most people.

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